Warning: Spoilers for Legion follow. Be forewarned. Shall we begin?
(And if you haven’t watched, the season premiere is free on iTunes right now!)
Okay, everyone. Deep breaths. This is real, and you are here, and that wonderful mind-bendy premiere episode of Legion just happened. In case you’re having trouble making sense of it, relax: we’re here to help.
Right out the gate, Legion doesn’t waste any time introducing itself to us: in the first few minutes we watch a hyper-stylized highlight reel of David’s life as he goes from happy child to troubled young man who appears to exhibit all the classic signs of paranoid schizophrenia–hearing voices especially.
After a pretty gut-wrenching suicide attempt (which, as it later turns out, might not have actually happened?), we pick back up with David (Dan Stevens) as he’s recovering at Clockworks Psychiatric Hospital, where he gets regular visits from his sister Amy (Katie Aselton), hangs out with his sardonic friend Lenny (Aubrey Plaza), and even finds himself a girlfriend: Syd Barrett (Rachel Keller), who doesn’t see how her compulsive desire not to be touched makes her certifiable. “What if our problems aren’t in our heads?” she asks during a group therapy session. “What if they’re not even problems?”
But although the pills keep the voices at bay, David still feels like his problems are pretty real. At night, he still has visions of a “demon with yellow eyes” who watches him on the periphery of his consciousness. Okay screw it, I’m just gonna put it out there. Is that Mojo????
In case you don’t know Mojo, let me sum up quickly: Mojo is an ‘80s-era X-Men villain who rules over a pocket dimension called the “Mojoverse” as a slave-driving dictator and reality TV producer (hmm, how timely!). Now, to be fair, there hasn’t actually been any confirmation that this is 100% Mojo. As a friend pointed out to me, it could also be the Shadow King, a being of telepathic energy with closer ties to Legion in the comics, although Legion‘s mysterious character’s yellow skin (and his role on a TV show, which would be beautifully ironic) feels way too obvious a visual cue not to at least be an allusion to Mojo, if nothing else. So for simplicity’s sake I’m just gonna go ahead and start calling him “Mojo” for the time being and there’s nothing you can do about it.
Anyway, back to the recap. Things are going well between Syd and David, presumably because they’ve both picked up a lot of cute ways to have a touch-less relationship from watching Pushing Daisies. But as adorable as they are, bad things are coming, because it turns out all the Clockwork scenes we’ve witnessed so far are flashbacks. In reality, present day David is being interrogated against his will in a facility full of armed military operatives, who know he’s a powerful mutant and are only keeping him alive to extract information from him about an “incident” at the hospital. So David explains just how everything went wrong.
On Syd’s last day at Clockworks, he can’t take the lack of human contact anymore and kisses her just as she’s being discharged, somehow causing them to swap brains. Yup, turns out Syd’s got some pretty weird mutant abilities, too. While stuck in David’s body she has no idea how to control his telekinetic powers, and ends up forcibly trapping all the patients in their rooms. Poor Lenny doesn’t quite make it and ends up eviscerated through a wall instead. Don’t worry, though—you don’t cast Aubrey Plaza in your show just to write her off half an hour into the first episode.
Eventually Syd’s powers wear off and the two revert back to their original bodies, but remain where their brains were located, meaning that David has unofficially been discharged. This isn’t actually a good thing, because now he doesn’t have access to the medication that kept his symptoms in check, and while at his sister’s house he starts to hallucinate that Lenny is there talking to him. Or is she a hallucination? The David Haller who exists in X-Men comics does tend to absorb the identities of people around him… perhaps that’s what’s happening here. Either way, she will henceforth be known as “Head Lenny,” because if Battlestar Galactica has taught me anything it’s that it’s good to be precise about multiple versions of the same character.
Speaking of which! In recalling the events of that day, David becomes convinced that his interrogator was there to pick up Syd, and this causes his powers to manifest by way of a pen thrust into the guy’s face. When he wakes up, the Interrogator (that’s seriously what IMDb calls him) has David’s strapped to electric cables in a swimming pool, and he’s gotten tired of holding the kid’s hand. He wants to know where Syd is right now.
So back into another flashback we go, as David tries to figure out where Syd’s gone. Except we’re not the only ones in here—so is present-day Syd. She’s being projected into David’s memory, she tells him, and she’s about to bust him out. When he wakes up, David narrowly survives an attack on the facility by what I’m guessing is probably a band of mutants, because one of them is setting soldiers on fire and flinging them into the air like rag dolls. David remembers seeing this team outside at Clockworks that day, because they were there to pick up Syd, and now she’s here with them to rescue him.
But where are they going now? Guess we’ll have to wait until next week to find out. In the meantime, let us know what you thought of Legion’s season premiere in the comments below!
Images: FX Networks/Marvel